For years I've argued that building a new Peace Bridge wasn't the economic necessity some claimed it to be. If adding 3 more lanes to that one border crossing were so important, where were the businesses clamoring to expand here if only we'd do it? Free trade (which I favor wholeheartedly) hasn't delivered for Buffalo but it's not the concept that's at fault -- it's simply that few, if any, have seen a reason to invest in this town because of it.
When FedEx Ground completes a 40 percent expansion of its Buffalo distribution hub this month, it will be able to deliver an additional 2,000 packages a day.
The expansion is needed because people are buying more on the Internet, and FedEx is servicing a booming population across the border.
The Walden Avenue project is part of a $1.6 billion investment to expand 30 existing FedEx Ground distribution hubs and build nine new ones across the country.
A growing group of online shoppers is driving ground delivery companies to expand their operations.
Forrester Research predicts that by 2008, e-commerce in the U.S. will grow by 19 percent and online shopping will make up 10 percent of all retail sales.
Buffalo's location has always been excellent for trade. As we all know -- all too well -- our prosperous past was driven by our location at the eastern end of the Great Lakes. But we can't forget that there were other cities with equally good locations and equally deep harbors: Erie, Pennsylvania for one.
And believe it or not, the city fathers of tiny Barcelona (next to Westfield) were once convinced that they were destined to become the great shipping terminus for Great Lakes trade. Flash-in-the-pan Buffalo would remain a backwater, they said. In the end, it was individuals who, fortunately for us, took Buffalo's location and risked their futures and fortunes to exploit it and make the city grow.
So now, when we see Federal Express expanding (without any government subsidies,) and we hear rumblings of interest in air cargo operations at the Niagara Falls airport, we can maybe start to think that the area's potential has a chance of being realized. Some more real, private money needs to be committed before we know it's all real, though.
We shouldn't rush to open the checkbook just yet, but we might start dusting off the bridge blueprints. Now what were those choices, again? Oh yeah, signature or twin-span.